FBI investigates residence near U

Courtney Lewis

Three weeks after the world’s worst terrorist attacks, the largest manhunt ever has apparently led the FBI near the University.

Three University students said the FBI searched their house in the 1100 block of Eighth Street Southeast on Thursday after they raised questions about a fourth roommate.

Alissa Miller, a sophomore nursing student; Brittney Dahl, an undeclared sophomore; and Brandi Watts, a sophomore chemical engineering major, live in the house and said they missed class last week to be interviewed by an FBI agent.

While the FBI does not comment on specific details of active investigations, public information officer Coleen Rowley said the bureau is following up numerous leads in the Twin Cities area and around the country.

“A majority of investigators nationwide are working on that one case, so it probably is in connection with the terrorist investigation,” Rowley said.

Rowley also said they are still prioritizing promising leads. Bureau officials began an investigation one day after Dahl’s mother contacted the FBI.

“We’ve received approximately 250,000 e-mails and calls about the case nationally, and here in the Twin Cities, we’re at several hundred. We’re still working on the high-priority leads that have come in,” she said.

Dahl said her mother called the FBI after hearing from her daughter about a fourth roommate who rarely stayed at home and had been missing for three weeks leading up to and after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

“They asked us a bunch of questions about him, stuff like why he would want to live with three girls. And then they went through his room,” Dahl said.

The FBI did not confiscate anything from the house, the women said, but took copious notes and found a large number of credit cards.

The women said they placed an advertisement for a roommate after their original fourth occupant didn’t attend school. They received e-mail responses from a man in Chicago who said he was a 22-year-old transferring to the University.

The man moved in, paying his first month’s rent and deposit. But it didn’t take long for the women to notice strange behavior, they said.

The man claimed he was 22 but his identification said he was 28, they said. He spent only Sundays at the house and gave them an Americanized version of his middle name as his first name. They didn’t learn his actual first name until they checked identification, they said.

The roommate would explain his long absences by saying he was busy at his internship or visting friends in Fargo or Moorhead, they said.

The women also said they did not think their roommate ever enrolled in classes and claimed to have lost his internship due to the faltering economy.

The FBI did contact the roommate at a Hopkins address but still searched the Marcy-Holmes residence, Dahl said.

“I guess they talked to him at his other address, but he wouldn’t give them this address. So my mom gave them this address and phone number and they came and spoke to us,” she said.

The FBI also told the women not to tell their roommate agents had been to the residence.

“We’re not supposed to,” Miller said. “He’s familiar with the guys who came here because they’re the ones who talked to him before. But we weren’t supposed to tell him that we’d got in contact with them.”

The women said they spoke to their roommate Thursday night after the interview and he told them to find someone to sublet the room.

“He said he’d pay for whatever but for us to try and find another roommate,” Dahl said.

The federal agent did not answer any of the girls’ questions regarding the purpose or details of the search.

“I asked like 50 questions and they would not tell me a single thing. They just stopped answering me after a while,” Miller said.

Dahl and Miller both said their roommate had always been friendly with them and seemed to be a nice person.

“I just wish I knew what was going on, because the curiosity is killing me,” Miller said.

But the three said they were not sure any of their questions would be answered.

“The FBI agent told us they doubted he’d come back,” Dahl said.

 

Josh Linehan is the Daily’s managing editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]